Wednesday, March 16, 2011

LL at Pauls: Contra Los Gigantes

Weeeellllllll, okay.

Here's last week's mayhem report from the Labyrinth Lord campaign.

So when last we left our heroes, we'd befriended an ogre through the agency of Hearth the elf's Charm Person spell.

We proceeded to grill the big dope, with Frog translating from hobgoblin, which was the only language the ogre, who's name was Gug, seemed to understand. He informed us that there were more ogres on the next mountain over, about 12 of 'em. (Actually, we weren't at all sure if this were an accurate number or not, or whether "twelve" was just his go to number when asked for one.) What's worse, they apparently were led by a hill giant named Grag (I think.)

What's even worse, the party up and decided that we were gonna go up and mess with this settlement of big goons. The Deacon reluctantly agreed. While it would be good to clear out this brutish scourge, on the other hand having one's skull reduced to a fine paste isn't a good career move.

So up the mountain we trekked with Gug in the lead. Our doughty dwarf Wormfinder (first name still not recalled) was stoked about getting to hunt down and kill some giants, since slayin' monsters was kind of his deal.

We came to a stop midway up the indicated mountain, and saw a two story stone structure clinging to the side of the mountain, with what looked like a nine foot ogre ducking in thru the door as we crouched behind a boulder.

So we sat down and took stock. We'd slept thru the night, and thus had our spells fully kitted out. Both Hearth and our new mage K-something (again, sorry for my memory lapse) had Charm Person racked, with Mr. K also featuring Sleep. For his part, the Deacon had Hold Person.

So we proceeded to hatch a plan with our big pal Gug, wherein' he'd go up and lure one of his friends down with promises of food that he needed help lugging back to the house. It took a lot of explaining to get this basic idea across, but he nodded and went trundling up the hill, while we all hunkered down and tried to stay out of sight (and rock throwing range)

A few minutes later a total of four ogres came tromping back down the hill.

So much for math.

So the first thing we do is pop up the spellcasters and let fly with Hold Person and two Charm Persons. As a result one ogre froze in his tracks, two smiled and waved, and one raised his club and charged. Which meant that one of the mages' Charm Person spells didn't take.

Kashiim, Frog, and Wormfinder stepped up to take the bellowing brute on. I don't rightly recall the blow by blow, but it was a furious fight, with the home team taking some nasty klunks from the ogre's whuppin' log. We finally finished the big goon off just as Gug and the other ogre, who's name turned out to be Thok, came down to join us, demanding to know. "Why you fight?" as well as "Where food?" We spun a sophisticated deception wherein' the newly dead ogre had eaten it, and I think he bought it. There was not telling what Thok thought, he only spoke ogrish. *shrug*

While this joyous reunion with our "friends" was going on, things kinda took a slide for the alarming up the hill, as 12 feet of mean and b.o. stepped out of the house followed by four more ogres, drawn out by the tumult raging down the hill. They took one look, shouldered their clubs, and came down the hill for a little pancake party.

Nothing quite focus' the mind like several tons of angry, tree trunk wielding muscle bearing down on you, so we sprung into action.

Mr. K fired off his Sleep spell, mercifully sending three of the approaching ogres off to twist the heads off some sheep in dreamland.

Meanwhile, Hearth entreated Gug, through Frog's broken hobgoblinish, to defend us from Grag and his posse, who we told him had stolen the food. (Ah, what a tangled web we weave when we practice the stupid to deceive.)

Initially we had no idea if Thok got the gist or not, but we were much relieved when he and Gug picked up some big rocks and hucked 'em at their former comrades. Apparently Thok was an all star QB at Ogre U, 'cos he spiraled his rock and nailed one of his buddies in the gut for mucho damage.

Finally, their offense crashed into our defensive line, and the battle was joined. We were all dreading the blows of the giant's tree trunk club, which was the fantasy equivalent of getting nuked from orbit. He killed poor Gug in a fit of pique, and laid a whammy on Wormfinder that left the poor guy even shorter than he was.

Meanwhile, the mages took the opportunity to slip up the hillside and punctuate the sentences of the sleeping ogres with their little daggers.

Sensing kind of a theme here...

Things were looking pretty dicey, but we managed somehow to pull out a win. The Deacon had to heal up Wormfinder, and by golly if the little guy wasn't the one who finally took the giant down. (I think that's what happened. It might have been Frog or Half Klint, even. If I'm failing to properly credit who took out the giant, let me know.)

So flush from our victory, the Deacon laid some healing on those who needed it, and we went up to check out the house. I'm not quite recalling what we did with Thok. Maybe he got clubbed, or maybe we sent him for takeout.

Anyway, we checked out the house, and found it mostly busted up and wrecked inside, as one would expect from a crowd of ogres and a hill giant taking up residence. The most notable room was a locked bedchamber that seemed to be untouched. Another one of similar composition, with a bashed in door, was on the other side of the house. Mysteries within mysteries...

Eventually, we sussed out that there was a room on the second floor where the giant probably kept his loot, a double doored affair that was inaccessible because all the floors around it had been caved in. We rigged up a window washer style rope trapeze between two spikes on either side of the expanse of wall, and hauled Half Klint across so he could work his theifly magic on the lock.

Well, that didn't work, but his halfling short guy rage allowed him to just bust the doors open with his tiny (albiet mighty) fists. Inside, we found sacks upon sacks of coins, so we scored big.

And that was where we left off.

It's come to me that Half Klint's player will soon be leaving the group, so overall it was good he ended on a high note. We'll miss ya, amigo!

Thanks again to Paul for running a great game, and thanks to the 10d gamers for getting ourselves into a fight with a bunch of hulking goons. Somehow we made it, so it's all win!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

New Class: The Shapeshifter

There are those who wander the world practicing a craft older than the most ancient of spells painstakingly researched by the wizards in their colleges and lonely towers, whispered in reminsices by the oldest patron deities of the clerics in their temples, nearly forgotten by even the elves in their timeless glades and the dwarves in their deep delves.

This craft has its roots in the primordial first drumbeats of creation, when no living thing had settled into its final form.

It is a simple magic, almost instinctual in its practice, that allows these gifted individuals the power to change shapes as if casting off an old cloak and donning a new one.

They are known, if such can be truly known at all, as the Shapeshifters.

Hit Dice: d8

The primary power of the shapeshifter is the ability to assume the form of any normal animal of equal Hit Dice to their level. They gain the movement, armor class, and attack forms of that creature, as well as any special attacks or abilities of a non-magical or spell like nature, with the exception of poisons, the webbing of spiders, and the ink of octopi and squids.

Thus, a 4th. level shapeshifter transformed into a black bear might gain the bear's hug attack. A 2nd. level shapeshifter transformed into a camel gains the beast's ability to carry 300 lbs. of baggage and go for days without water. Etc.

A shapeshifter cannot speak in animal form unless they are one level higher than the chosen creature's Hit Dice.

The shapeshifter can transform into composite, "mythic" creatures if they have sufficient levels to encompass the hit dice of the component creatures.

The shapes of creatures with a bilateral human component, like satyrs, minotaurs, lizard men, gnolls, or centaurs, are gained at their listed Hit Dice level. In creatures with a human component among multiple other composite animals, like a manticore, gain the human part for an additional level.

For example, a shapeshifter would have to be 8th. level to become a gryphon (3 for the giant hawk, 5 for the lion).

However they cannot gain any sort of magic like effects or breath weapons. A 13th. level shapeshifter could assume the form of a chimera (2 for giant bat, 2 for goat, 5 for lion, and 4 for giant serpent) but would not gain the beast's fiery breath. A 12th. level shapeshifter becoming a manticore (2 for giant bat, 5 for lion, and 4 for giant scorpion, 1 for human) would gain the tail spikes, however.

Demi humans and humanoids without a distinct animal component cannot be transformed into, so orcs, elves, dwarves, halflings, ogres, etc. are off limits.

A shapeshifter is forbidden by ancient and inscrutable laws to assume the form of a ki rin or unicorn, regardless of level.

They may assume something akin to the shape of a dragon at 18th. level or higher, gaining all the attack forms save a breath weapon, but this is an action fraught with risk as it tends to uncannily draw the attention of true dragons who might be in the area. They cannot assume the color of any of the chromatic or metallic types, tending toward scales that match their normal skin and hair coloration.

It's up to the Labyrinth Lord's final discretion what components contribute to a creatures' Hit Dice.

The shift from one shape to another takes as much time in rounds as the target form's Hit Dice. Thus, it would take a high level shapeshifter 9 rounds to become a chimera, but only a single round to transform into a house cat. They may revert to their human form at will.

Shapeshifters are completely immune to the curse of lycanthropy.

In exchange for this mastery over the many forms of the animal world, the shapeshifter forgoes the tools of man, and can wear no armor and wield no weapons. Due to their protean nature, they tend to carry little beyond what can fit in a pack, and wear clothing that is easily cast off and replaced, should they choose to wear any at all.

As far as treasure is concerned, they are still quite happy to claim their fair share, as gold and jewels buy creature comforts, and can be laid aside for a rainy day. Individual tastes may vary from shapeshifter to shapeshifter. Some may favor abiding in nature, away from the hurlyburly of civilization, while others are perfectly happy in the warm conviviality of a tavern or inn.

When it comes to magic items, they favor jewelry that may be worn in many forms like bracelets and necklaces, and potions always come in handy. They have no use for scrolls, wands, armor, or weapons.

A shapeshifter is ostensibly a human, although there is usually something odd about them that marks them out as different even when they're wearing their human shape.

Roll 1d20 on the following table every 5 levels.
01: Animal like eyes. Roll 1d4 1: Cat-like 2: Sheep-like 3: Faceted 4: Dog-like
02: Fine patterned scales
03: Feathers instead of hair
04: A tail Roll 1d8 1: Fox 2: Cow 3: Lizard 4: Monkey 5: Swallow 6: Horse 7: Dog 8: Cat
05: Raccoon like mask on face
06: Mobile, animal like ears. Roll 1d4: 1: Dog-like 2: Cow-like 3: Rabbit-like 4: Bat-like
07: Striped or spotted patterns on skin
08: Short, downy fur matching hair color
09: Dog like pads on feet and palms.
10: Odd teeth Roll 1d4 1: Fangs 2: Huge buck teeth 3: Small tusks 4: Insectoid mandibles
11: Completely hairless
12: Spiny ridge starting at forehead and extending down the spine.
13: Digitigrade legs
14: Odd face Roll 1d4 1: Beak 2: Muzzle 3: Reptilian 4: Huge Nose
15: Mute. Can imitate animal sounds flawlessly, but must communicate in sign language.
16: Unusual diet Roll 1d4
1:Obligate Carnivore 2: Obligate Herbivore 3: Carrion 4: No cooked food of any kind
17: Make random animal noises if Save vs. Spell failed in stressful situations.
18: Talons on hands and feet do 1d4 in combat
19: Arms are vestigial wings (fully functional as arms, but oddly formed and proportioned)
20: Completely different human appearance each time the human shape is resumed. Gender is maintained, but descriptors such as looks, hair and skin color, and the like change radically. Re-roll Charisma each time.

Upon reaching 9th. level, a shapeshifter may choose to claim a hex of wilderness that becomes their domain. Usually, this area will center on some striking natural feature, like a distinctive rock outcropping or a waterfall. All the animals of less than 9 HD found there pay him or her fealty, and develop the ability to speak in a language that the shapeshifter alone can understand.

The shapeshifter must come to amicable terms with more powerful creatures in their neighborhood, or defeat them in battle and drive them away. As they gain levels, the shapeshifter may command the loyalty of the more powerful creatures who co-exist in their territory.

In return, the shapeshifter is expected to defend the land and its denizens from external threats, but they may freely negotiate hunting or logging rights with more civilized neighbors.

Shapeshifters use the elf table for level advancement, and use halfling saving throws.

This class is hereby designated as Open Game Content via the Open Game License.

LL at Pauls: Barging out.

Whoa. Better get around to the weekly game report before its expiration date rolls around. I've been busy getting stuff ready for this year's fabulous Helgacon and thus let my blogly duties slide.

Anyway, when last we left the group we were taking care of business while the Deacon rested up from his round trip to the great beyond.

So this ended up being mostly another session of in town errands and haggling with various worthies about the city of Bridgefair.

On the monetary front, we found a buyer for the looted suits of Ilmorian armor, which netted us some good coin. We invested a fair amount of it into buying a sufficiently precious gem for the next time we might need to raise someone from the dead. Kashiim used his southern desertlander haggling skills to talk the merchant down to a reasonably bargain price.

We also got the chainmail and mace back from Alric, who figured out that they were pretty low level enchanted, +1 at best. Not bad for gearing up a hench, which is my suggestion. It's party property, so they don't get to keep it, but it helps strengthen our offensive line.

So on that subject we set up in The Pikeman (which is apparently part of a chain, like a fantasy Applebees. Try their +1 onion blossom!) and announced we were recruiting.

We got three applicants. A twitchy little thief guy who referred to himself as "The Sculptor" because he was "good with his hands", a wizard who talked with a thick German accent and could do Shield and Ventriloquism. (Available for "pahties, veddinks, and bah mitzfahs"), and a stout dwarf armed with pike and platemail (I think). As amusing as Gedenka (I think his name was) vould haff been to haff on the pahty, we vent... ahem... went with the dwarf and said thanks but no thanks to the others.

So the dwarf, who's name eludes me right now, had a question when he signed on. Namely, what was our next mission. We had to demur on answering that right away, although we did have one bit of business which was to deliver 100 gp. to the head of Palinthor's church in another city, as payment for the Neutralize Poison that had to be done on the Deacon to get him back on his feet for good.

After that, we didn't really have a plan, although our new dwarf hireling had a suggestion. He said a group of his bretheren had gone into the mountains to find a lost dwarven steading, and that sort of thing usually implies dungeons full of treasure. So we said we'd take it under consideration.

Before we could get to any of that, though, we had another problem to solve, namely getting out of Bridgefair, which with the impending siege was locked down tight as a drum with no traffic going thru the gates.

It turned out that the only thing going into or out of the city was some barge traffic on the western river, so we hied ourselves down to the waterfront to see if we could either contract or hire on to a barge. After slipping some silver to the harbormaster, he pointed us to a barge known as The Warthog, who's captain was in need of some hands.

I'm afraid my tardiness in writing this up has allowed the captain's name to slip out of my head, but description wise he bore a strong resemblance to Captain Lou Albano, so that's what I'll call him.
After a bit of negotiation, he hired us as muscle, offering us one silver a day in exchange for our pulling our weight on the barge. In addition, he required The Deacon to help him with a bit of a... personal problem through the offices of a Cure Disease spell. *shudder* (Well, I was glad to oblige, but true to my profession I made sure to give him a lecture about avoiding future trouble in that... area....)

Sadly, since we were trying to save money on hauling freight, we sold off our wagon and surviving draft horse, which we got a good price for in the soon to be besieged city, and gave our groom and guardsman, Garant and Darius, their walking papers. We also bid a sad adieu to our faithful guard dogs Liam and Yogund.

The barge trip itself was largely uneventful, as we poled our way up the Buckberry river. The only encounters of note were a company of mercenaries who we directed toward Bridgefair, with the encouraging word that they were probably hiring guys with their skillset down there, and passing thru a fortified river gate set in a long, Hadrian style wall that separated the human kingdoms from the wilderness' to the north.

We stayed with the barge as far as the next large town, again with a name I forget. (Sorry, Paul) where we parted company with the Warthog and Captain Lou. With our silver wages in hand, we spent the night at a comfy inn, bought supplies for an overland march, made the purchase of a donkey to carry stuff (especially all the heavy crap that seemed to be weighing Frog down), and set out the next morning heading back south. I guess you can consider it a rather roundabout trip, but it was worth it to get out of Bridgefair without having to come up with some cockamamie scheme involving hot air balloons and our Ring of Feather Fall.

When we got back down to the wall, we decided to climb up and walk along it, as it was heading in the direction of the city we were aiming for. The gate guards were a bit puzzled as to whether we should be charged the toll, but since we weren't crossing thru gate so much as walking along the wall's top, they reluctantly let us go without paying. We did have to drop a couple silver to send one guy thru with the donkey, since there were stairs on the other side of the wall and it was easier than hauling the poor beast up with ropes.

Over the next couple days we made our way along the wall, in what was a very cinematic "Lord of the Rings" style travel montage in my mind's eye. At night, we'd find one of the periodic stairs, and camp out against the wall, with two man watches. One guy would sit atop the wall for a better view, and the other would tend the fire and be on hand to wake the rest of the party up if trouble loomed.

Kinda like this, but a lot larger with a bunch of adventurers and a donkey on top, and a John Williams soundtrack in the background.

It didn't really loom until a couple days into the journey. As we went, the wall got more crumbly and in poor repair, forcing us at times to climb down and walk alongside when it got too treacherous.

We were camped out at night when our lookout spotted two huge humanoids who started chucking pieces of wall at us from a distance. At first I was thinking "giants". (More accurately, I was thinking "Oh CRAP! Giants!") but they turned out to be ogres. (Perspective can be a crafty minx when it comes to spotting giants. Is that a six foot tall guy ten feet away, or an 18 foot tall guy a hundred feet away? Turns out it was somewhere in the middle of the slider bar.)

It just shows to go you how far the party has come. Last time we met up with an ogre (who was the pet goon for a bunch of gnolls) we had a really hard time. This time, though, it was a pretty low effort encounter. (Not that I'm getting cocky, mind you. The dice and a sufficiently peeved DM can make anything deadly if you're off your luck for the night.)

We got everybody woken up and armored up while the big goons lobbed bits of masonry at us. I don't think they managed to score a hit. Whereas Hearth and the Deacon settled their hash handily, with a Charm Person and Hold Person spell respectively. (Luckily, ogres are just barely within' the whole "Person" designation for both spells, which don't count personality so much as humanoidness.) So one ogre was froze solid while the other considered our elf buddy with the deviated septum his new bestest friend in the world.

"Sloth love Hearth!"

The Held one we coup de graced with extreme prejudice. Our new goon pal, however, we need to figure out what to do with. We had him empty out his ogre bag, which was full of a load of silver and gold. He was happy to part with the loot, now that he had a new bosom chum.

And that's where we left it. If we're gonna keep this guy around we're gonna need to keep a supply of candy bars ready.

Thanks again to Paul for running an eventful game, and to the 10d gamers for another jolly good session, what?